Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We Can't Blame Bubba for This One!

A very Merry Christmas to you all. And speaking of Christmas, every year I am amazed at the decorations I see in my neighbors' yards celebrating the holidays. Giant inflatable Snowmen, fiberglass Santas and lights by the millions share our happiness, our joy and our faith. Yes, our faith. It is in the South (with the requisite capital 'S') that I have seen some of the greatest nativity displays ever. (And remember, I grew up in Colorado where, every year when I was growing up, we as a family would make our annual trek downtown to see arguably one of the most incredible lighting and nativity displays ever.

This year, I have learned of a Christmas decoration that is by far and away one of the strangest I have ever seen. This is even over and above the Christmas Pickle. I am speaking of Mr. Caganer. Mr. Caganer roughly translates to Mr. Defecator. That's right, it's a little character taking a poop on your Holiday. Now at first, one might think "Oh them Suthun boys! They really do know how to poop on Christmas!" But this is not, and I repeat NOT an invention of the South.

Yeah, I know, I am as surprised as you!

For those of you not in the know, Mr. Caganer was an obliged figure in the Nativity Displays of eighteenth century Catalonia (North Eastern Spain) which has stayed around to modern times. Back then, it was believed that with his fertile depositions the soil became rich and productive for the coming year. It was also believed that he would bring good health and peace to the body and the soul, which is the essence of Christmas Nativity Display. (Paraphrased from some Internet site...)

Hey, I'm not making this up. (Though it does make me wonder if, in the same Nativity display, the 3 Wise men then brought Frankincense, Gold and Charmin. Just a thought...) There is a mall in Spain that has even made a giant Mr. Caganer the centerpiece of their shopping experience. A little hard to believe? Check it out.
Now before you start to cry "CHOPPED"* this is absolutely true. You can google the name yourself.

I love the fact that people wander around as if there is nothing wrong with a 6 foot pile of poop in the center of the mall! Ok, so it's representational and probably made of foam rubber, but the idea is still there. They view it like we would view a large snowflake. You see, in many other areas of the world, they are not burdened with our puritan background. Such things as nudity, sex, and bodily functions are part of life, not something to hide in the basement.

I've done some research on the loose boweled little fella. Mr. Caganer is available in his standard Catalan effects (as seen below) but can also be purchased in a myriad of designs including sports figures (entire teams!), singers (like Michael Jackson and Elvis), US Presidents (yes, they have Obama Caganer out there), world leaders (Prince Charles and Lady Bowles? Why it's almost as if - no, that's just too easy), historical figures from Hitler to Einstein and I've even seen Darth Vader and Spongebob! It almost makes me want to start a collection.
Hey, I said 'almost'....

Here's wishing you and yours a holiday season which no one defecates upon!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Suthan Man's De-Snowing Primer

I had hoped to create this in advance of the snow, but since just about the entire country is covered in white flakes, I figured I had best get it in now.

Here in the south, we get very few snow storms in a single season. We get lots of rain and sometimes ice, but snow is relegated to only a few times in a given season and yet at those times we do get enough snow to cover everything and require 'de-snowing'* of one's car. Regardless of this frequency or amount, one should be able to clean ones car of any amount of deposited snow in a manner that is conscious of both safety AND the law. Growing up in Colorado I have much experience in the ‘de-snowing’ of cars, with the expected number of mistakes. Suthunahs, not so much.

Therefore it is with great relish (and perhaps ketchup) that I present the Suthun Man’s De-Snowing Primer - Complete with photos! (Come on now, you expected this, right?)

The best way to describe the amount of snow to remove from the vehicle can be done in one word: completely. Clean the snow from the car as completely as you can. There are reasons for all this the least of which is fuel economy. Snow is heavy and causes your car to need more fuel as it drives. Some feel that a cursory attempt is all that is needed to de-snow a car when in fact, one should always remove any and all lose snow from the car before moving it. Not being diligent means you fall into one of the great Snow Jerk Categories.

Let’s take these one at a time.

The Phantom: It snowed while you slept/worked/shopped/ate at a nice restaurant. Turn on the lights and The phantom is what you get.
Many people will scrape the car windshield, yet leave (forget?) the lights. Drive with the lights like this and you get: The Moving Phantom: At night this is another accident waiting to happen. And happen they do! No one can see you with the lights covered so clean the snow off the bumper so that the lights are visible. (Front AND back!)
Now, about that windshield….

The Tank: Some people feel that all they need to do is clean a small section of snow from the windshield. They feel that snow is an “emergency” situation which allows this.

(Note the Phantom lights, too!)
Other people feel that as long as they get everything they can reach, it's ok. Again, heavy snow seems to denote some sort of emergency situation where the rules of both common courtesy and dangerous driving seem to blur or become nonexistent. Then you get the "Half Tank" or this

Like the Tank, there is also the Venetian Blinds: A few think that all they have to do is remove SOME of the snow from the windshield, or maybe HALF, also figuring that the fact that they are cold means they don’t have to do a good job, and perhaps they are also secretly hoping that the hot air from the interior windshield vents will complete the job.

See No Evil: These folks leave the back window full of ice and snow with the same reasoning as the roof: They don’t NEED to see through it. Give these guys a wide berth, as they can’t see you and what’s worse, they don’t want to. (No photo, but that doesn't mean they aren't out there!)

The Mini Blizzard: I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve seen. They clean the windshield and maybe even the front and back windows, only to leave a large amount of snow on the top of the vehicle. Their reasoning is sound: you don’t need to see through the roof (sunroofs notwithstanding). They forget that once the car begins to move, every car behind them is driving in a blizzard created by the snow blowing slowly off the roof. There’s a reason so many of those scrapers come with brushes (or maybe they need a big push broom.)
The Personal Blizzard: Forgetting to remove the loose snow from the hood. The loose snow now blows up into the driver’s vision and becomes an accident waiting to happen…well, maybe not waiting too long either since most of these folks won't pull over and correct the situation. I guess they also consider snow an emergency situation which somehow forgives them this requirement.

ok, so now ya know. Whether you live in the Suthun States of Americuh or in "Tim Buck Too," you too can de-snow your car with ease. Now, if only we could just get rid of the cold weather and go back to shorts and flip flops.


* (“De-Snowing”, the art of removing snow from one’s vehicle(s).)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gone to the Dogs - the Southern Doghouse

Here is another one of those inveterate Suthun repurpose projects. Usually, the standard Suthun Gennelman won't toss out such a piece of equipment for one of three reasons. These are (in no particular order)

A) He can re-use this fine piece of equipment to create something new and exciting.
B) He can keep it for parts to repair another one of the same thing.
C) He doesn't want to, or does not have the equipment needed to take it to the dump.

Ok, so C is usually the reason most things end up sticking around, but in this particular case, we find good use for it. With a nice dry roof and insulation, that old non-working front loading washer becomes a dog residence. Upon close inspection we can see that the washer insides are gone and the dog has lots of room (as well as no fear of being shut in by some devious neighborhood cat) and it looks pretty warm and dry.

Not really a new invention, but a great repurpose of old equipment. Only in the South.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Invention Intervention - The Water's Fine.

This is one of those laughable photos that both intrigues and scares me. I mean, come on. We've all gone to High School and we all know that electricity and water are not friends, so why are these guys risking their life in such fashion? And why are they smiling while doing so. What my fine descerning eye can get from this photo is that A) that red power cord is not plugged in, and B)to my shock and dismay - these men are NOT SUTHUN!

How can I be so sure? Ok, lets take a closer look at the crime scene photo.

First, we got a nice heavy duty power cable going to the pool. This is good, (and most likely unplugged) but then you have a standard power strip plugged into it which may - on the surface - look like a good idea. ("On the surface" Did you catch what I did there?) The power strip is kept afloat with the ingenious (??) use of a couple of floating sandals. Then you have the needed electrical device up on a beer encrusted table.

Now, you can see the problem, can't you? CAN'T YOU? You CAN'T??

No, it's not that the pool is in the backyard. Nor is it that the cord appears to go away from the house. It is not that the cable appears to be taped to a strange weight, or the ingenious (??) use of the floating sandals.

It's the beer. Oh and the electric grill (I mean come on, even I, an aspiring Suthunah knows that the best grilling comes from hot coals made from good ol' suthun hardwoods!) But mainly, it's the beer. Look at that array! LOOK AT IT!

There are at least a dozen bottles visible in this picture, and only three of them appear to be the same BRAND. Who does this? Hmm? WHO? Who, in their right mind, goes out and buys a bunch of silly designer beers with the fancy names and fancier lables and then shares them with a bunch of goons who threaten your life with poor electronics? WHO? I'll tell ya who: NAWTHUNUZ, that's who!

This ain't any of my Good Ol' Suthun Neighbors at all! In fact, I suspect they're from NEW YAWK!

(Yosemite Sam Voice) If I wasn't such a gennelman, I'd say something I'd regret.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Southern Fried Turkey A Suthun Tradition

It's Thanksgiving time in the South. Ok, so it's Thanksgiving time all over the US, but here in the South (with requisite Capital S) we have a unique addition to the Thanksgiving feast. Suthun Fried Turkey. Oh my, just the sound of the phrase "Suthun Fried Turkey" is enough to get yer mouth a waterin' and your hands to shaking, and you find yourself saying things like "Ooooeeey! Doan thet sayowd guuuuud?" (Nawthun translation: Doesn't that sound good?)

Southern Frying allows the bird to cook and seals in ALL of the moisture. Result: Very moist bird. Yet, Southun Fried Turkey properly done may be easier said than done as the photo above may attest. From what my research tells me, the problems come from one of three different mistakes.

1) Choosing to deep fry a turkey with little or no experience in cooking with a big pot of hot oil. A lot of Suthun cooks cook in hot oil, but are totally unsure how to work with such a large pot and such a large item to cook. The result is Southern Fried Catastrophe.

2) Using too much oil. Put a big old bird down in to hot oil and it overflows, into the open flame and you're gonna have fire. Big Fire. Hard to put out fire.

3) Doing this indoors. In fact, it is part of all instructions I can find that you shouldn't be cooking a Suthun Fried Turkey even NEAR a wooden structure.

This paragraph is an addendum, written in November of 2011 after I received a visit from Neighbor Bubba, Lord of All Things Barbeque.  It is an important step, which I had neglected to include originally.)  When lowering the turkey into the oil, or taking the turkey out of the oil, one must always remember to TURN OFF THE FIRE.  Bubba points out that this is the main mistake that so many novices make, thinking that the fire has to be on continuous.  Heat the oil, says Bubba, then shut off the fire and wait a couple of minutes.  This means that the metal around the fire ring has cooled to a point where it won't be hot enough to flame should a bit of oil hit it.  Now you can stand close enough to the boiling oil to control the turkey as it goes into the pot (or out.)  Once in, you can then safely ignite the fire again, without fear of an oil fire.  (end of addendum)

When it comes to cooking, I defer to Neighbor Bubba (this is to differentiate from my Brother Bubba, the one who lives in Colorado, but I usual) Neighbor Bubba has cooked more than a few of these delicious birds. He says that the key is preparation. Which in his case means at least 2-3 Non Light Beers.

I joke, but Bubba really does make a delicious fried bird. He sets up his equipment at the far edge of his property (about 50 feet from the house and shed). His true secret is in how he measures the amount of oil. He puts the bird down into the cold pot and fills it with oil to just above the bird. Then he pulls out the bird allowing all the oil to drip off. Perfect measurement.

The second key is learning to lower the bird into the hot oil as slowly as possible. Bubba points that this may be difficult in that you're standing over hot oil and equipment ((fire off, as stated above) as you try to stay balanced slowly lowering a turkey easily heavier than the standard bowling ball. Bubba, therefore, true to his Suthun Roots, has discovered the perfect slow way to do it.
Bubba says you can do the same thing with three pieces of 2x4 and a block and tackle.
I probably won't get to taste Bubba's creation, as we're having regular old oven roasted bird. But that doesn't mean I can't learn and prepare for that day in the future when, as a true Suthun Gennelman, I can fry my own Suthun Fried Turkey.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Music and Suthunaz

When I first came to Nashville, I had to answer one question a lot. "Are you in the industry?" and by "industry" they mean the music industry and more specifically, Country Music. You see, I have a college degree in music. Though my tastes in music at the time didn't include Country, Western or Bluegrass, all people saw was some guy who had a big background in music moving to Music City. So, they'd always ask, "You come here for the Music Industry?" And my answer was always no. They'd all then give me some strange looks especially when I'd say that my music background was more in Art Songs sung in German and if I used the world "Opera" they'd always reply "Oh yeah, the Opry ...we know all about that...."

I'm still not a fan of Country Music, but I can truly understand the way that people are drawn to it. Country music tells the stories of one's life as it might have been, should have been, could have been and might still be. It's like looking at someone else's High School yearbook and noting the similarities as well as the differences and hearing the stories everyone tells.

But Country Music is not just a Suthun thing. It's listened to just about everywhere. Everywhere except my house. My wife listens to Heavy Metal. Screaming guitars, loud vocals - oh and she has every Joe Cocker Album ever produced. Country Music to her is like garlic to a vampire. That's OK, to each his own is my motto. She can listen to whatever she likes. It's a free country and some of the music she plays is also on my playlist.

My tastes are wide open, but I don't listen to music much anymore. It's because of the way in which people listen to music and ascribe 'fandom' to you for the action noting with fervor or derision the choices in your musical selections. The discussions go something like this: Someone turns on the radio and a song comes on. Let's say it's Elvis. It happens to be one of the songs I like, so I turn up the volume just a bit, maybe even sing along with the chorus.

"Oh you like HIM?" someone says.
"No. I like this song."
They respond: "I didn't realize you were a Elvis Fan..."
"I am most assuredly NOT."
And then the argument starts.

Let me make myself perfectly clear: I am not a fan of any particular person or band. I listen to music I like and just because I listen to a song or songs by any one person or writer, group or mainstream entity does not mean I listen to ALL their music or dream of meeting them, getting their autograph or having them over for dinner. Elvis did a couple of good songs - Songs which I like. So did Frank Sinatra. So did Aeorsmith. So did Leonard Cohen. (Who's Leanord Cohen? Look it up.) This enjoyment of a few of their pieces does not make me a fan of ALL music by said performer/writer/group/mainstream entity.

Perhaps this is why, during High School, I did not buy many albums. I could not see buying an entire album just to get the one or maybe two songs which I enjoyed. Still don't. I didn't go to a lot of concerts back then for the same reason. Why sit through a lot of songs I don't enjoy just to hear the ones I do? Why give the band my money to play songs I don't enjoy?

By the same token, being listed as a Country Fan puts one in a similar boat. Being in Country Western Country (say that three times fast) and someone finds me listening to say, Leonard Cohen, (you did look it up, right?) I know I'm going to get those strange looks. Traitorous looks. As if my listening to some other music genre may cause the downfall of western civilization, the city to be overrun with Nawthun Agression (yet again) and the Titans will lose all the games on their schedule. At the very least, it will keep me from being inducted into the Hallowed Halls of Suthun Acceptance. Which, of course brings me full circle in my Suthun Quest.

So, here I hide with my radio and my laptop. Listening to an eclectic mix of music when no one else is around to hear - and judge...especially not my Country-Western Lovin' Suthun Neighbors.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Invention Intervention #2

The Suthunah is the consummate inventor. I'm not talking about new fangled gadgets for your kitchen, or deep space technology. I'm talking every day (and possibly one of a kind) inventions that make at least one person's life easier.

Above is such an example. When faced with the task of shoveling a lot of snow, a lot of folks turn to a snowplow or similar device hooked to the front of their pick-em-up truck. This fine citizen of the south MADE himself a snowplow. Self powered and fits in the back of the car, this little gadget makes quick and easy work of snow. And well it should, as it appears that he's got a full parking lot to plow.

This invention needs a closer look, too. Not covered in duck tape, or held together with spit, baling wire and prayer, this thing is a joy to behold. Beautiful engineering and handiwork, highlighted by a great job of painting. Look at the front wheels, apparently this cuts through deep snow too!

And yes, we do get snow in the South. Not all over the south, but enough to make this invention the pride of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beer me another Brewskie Bubba

Beer. Last week you may recall that I mentioned this miracle brew once or twice. To the Suthunah, Beer is more than just a beverage. It has become part of the very fabric of society. Celebrations hinge on its inclusion, but more than that, beer is a part of every day life. On any given day you can sit in the parking lot of any convenience store that sells the golden elixir and count the number of people headed home who stop in for a 12 pack (or 24 pack for those larger families) to stock the fridge. Daily. If it's the weekend, (especially a major sports weekend) this number grows exponentially.

In addition, several dozen 'micro-breweries' have sprung up across the south proving that the South has its own share of quality brew masters.

My brother, Bubba, makes his own beer. I'm not sure if you'd call him a brew-master, but he has been known to fill a few cases of beer each year. His one claim to fame (if you can call it that) is that his beer has been known to explode the bottles while they sit in the cupboard. Personally, I think that this just gives him an excuse to drink more. "Gotta drink these up 'afore they 'splode." (He lives in Colorado, so I don't really know why he talks like that.)

The problem (and the reason for this entire blog today) is that I don't drink beer. Never could get past the taste. Yes, I know there are millions of people who think I'm wrong. Suthunahz from New Orleans to Raleigh enjoy beer on a daily basis and remark to each other how great it is - oh and not only does it taste great, but is it less filling. I'm sure that they all can easily tell the difference between Ale and Lager and Light Beer and Non-Light beer. To me, they all taste the same and it's not good. I end up making that 'beer face' and someone makes fun of me and then there's gunfire..and...well, it's not pretty.

Now don't get me wrong. Every now and then one of my son-in-laws or some neighbor will come over with a case of some dark brew and I'll do the good thing of tipping one back. If their timing is right, and the day is hot enough, that bad bitter beer taste will magically turn into the perfect thing to drink at that very moment. It's days like that where I feel that I might actually be one of the natives.

Welcome to the South. Get me another beer there, Bubba, 'afore they 'splode.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beer-ventions and Beer-novations...

Beer. Like a pack of Pavlovian Dogs, just the mention of the word 'beer' can get the typical Suthunah to salivate and crave the taste of hops and barley. What we (they) do for beer goes beyond enjoyment and borders on fanatical religion. More than just the typical Beer Hat, or foam Beer Cozy, these inventions boggle the imagination.

Today's Beer-vention and/or Beer-novation is above. This guy is home due most likely to an injury he sustained which keeps him couch ridden. One can clearly see the crutch laying there beside the couch. One can also clearly see the beer (in the proper foam beer cozy) in his right hand with a cooler of backups for when the current can is completed. (Suthuhn note: When drinking beer, one must always have a backup.)

The Suthunah in me smiles at his 'beer-novation'. He's got a bird's-eye view of the neighborhood and can act as crossing guard, neighborhood watch and air traffic controller all from the comfort of his Beer-ca-lounger. I bet he's even got himself a cell phone to call the local constabulary should something untoward occur within his 'beer-view.' His Beer-genuity using a couch rather than a simple recliner also leaves space for his wife, lady friend or BFF (Beer Filtching Friend.) Barring companionship, he's got enough room to take a nap without having to climb down from his perch.

Now, that said, the realist in me wonders at this Beer-vention. If he's injured (and the crutch would tend to support this theory,) he had to have put that couch up on the roof before the injury (or had a few neighborhood Beer-enhanced engineers to assist in the endeavor.) Additionally, he has to have some way to get UP to the roof which doesn't put a lot of strain on his injury. A ladder? Cherry Picker, perhaps?

And finally, we all know that after a few beers, one needs the use of porcelain facilities to 'recycle' the beer in the proper recycling device. I don't see one, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have a 5 gallon jug hiding behind the trusty Beer-ca-lounger.

It is the Beer Mysteries which keep us guessing. Another in a long line of Beer-novations and exciting Beer-ventions created exclusively here in the south.

I'm so proud. I'm a bit verklempt. Yeah...I need a beer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Don't Bug Me.

I've said it before and I'm saying it again. The South is full of bugs. Spiders, caterpillars, creepy crawlies of all kinds. It's the weather. The extra moisture and heat combine to make bugs grow and grow fast. I've pointed out in previous posts that we've had a lot of problems with bugs in my area especially since the flood. Now I need to take the time to point out what living in the south with my wife (and said bugs) is like.

You see, my wife is Native American. This is not the problem. The problem is that she abhors killing anything that may be beneficial. Like spiders. OK, so let's get it out in the open, I'm one of those guys who hates spiders. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, but to me the only good spider is a dead spider. That whole thing of "They're more scared of you than you are of them" is hogwash. If they're so scared why aren't they screaming like me? Spiders. Shudder.

My wife on the other hand, reveres them. Case in point:
Recently we found this spider (above) out front of our house. It is approximately the size of a small dog. OK, so maybe it's not that large, but as spiders go, this is a big one. At about the same time, we found three (3) more of these around the house. (THREE MORE...I thought for sure they were going to invade, and barricaded myself in the bathtub with a can of Bug Spray.) They are, in fact, Golden Orb Spiders and benign, non venomous, blah blah and blah. I will refrain from any glowing descriptions of webs or beneficial actions other than to say they are big, fast and an evil looking day-glo yellow on black. Yeeesh.

My initial response (other than running and screaming like a little girl): Smash it with a brick. Burn the carcass and put it on a stake as a warning to all the others. And then, spray the entire house to make sure there are no others.

My wife's response: Feed it. That's right, hunt down and catch things to put on the web. Big fat juicy grasshoppers, water bugs, small rodents and stray dogs. (Yes, that's right, I'm joking again, I wouldn't catch rodents...) Toss them in the big web and watch the spider wrap them up to eat later.

Now, I have to admit, with all this attention over the past few weeks, I've grown rather fond of my wife's little 'pets' but then something strange happened. One day, they all just...disappeared. No, they are not hibernating under the leaves nearby, they are not laying around on the ground. They just stopped being there. No evidence, no forwarding address. Now, the screaming little girl in me figures they have gone into the house and are planning to abduct me in the middle of the night. (Cue the bad dreams, cold sweats and aforementioned barricading in the bathtub.)

I cannot find anything on the Internet which says actually where they have gone, it says they just are gone. Dead. My research also says that they die with the first frost and and this is the bad part: leave behind a sac of eggs.

Oh. Joy. Eggs.

If you need me, I'll be hiding in the bathtub with the bug spray.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Recovery is an Ongoing Thing

Nashville is getting back to its normal self. You remember the flood? Back in May? Every so often, we get new reports of something reopening (The Grand Olde Opry, a Local Target, etc) and we all smile as another piece of our city is back to normal.

One of the interesting sidelights to our recovery was that so many of the buses were damaged. I ride the bus to work and felt this firsthand. The city borrowed many buses from other areas and this kept service from being uninterrupted. Then came this last week.

While waiting in the early morning dark for my bus, up pulls this huge double long sleek (and QUIET) bus. Its nose is reminiscent of the Space Shuttle and the door opens with a quiet whoosh. I half expect to hear the voice of HAL 9000. I would like to have taken a picture but my camera takes lousy pictures in direct sunlight let alone o-dark thirty, so I caught this photo of the bus later in the day as it cruised through the downtown 'Music City Central' bus station. It was so quiet when it pulled up that it was at the bus stop before I knew it.

The lights inside were bright and everyone was smiling. There were no scratches or graffitti and it had that New Bus smell. Not like new car smell, but definitely new bus smell. I like it. No body odor, no onion bratwurst, no leftover spilled coke or (god forbid) urine - or worse. It was heaven.

I welcome these new buses and am glad to see the South returning to it's glory once again. Ride on, Nashville, Ride on!

A side note, 1 week later. The big new bus has been moved to another route. We're back to one of the old busses. It was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Invention Intervention - The Lawn Gadget

I receive a lot of flack about southern 'inventions.' I call them inventions but what they really are is a unique use for something. In many regards, this is what is referred to as "forward thinking" where a problem is tackled by means not normally taken.

Take for example the picture above. Sure he could have gone out and spent a lot of money on some sprinkler that does the same thing, but let's face it. Putting this baby together took engineering and manufacturing skills you won't see in New Yawk.

This is one of the real problems I'm starting to have in the South as I get closer and closer to Suthunhood. (Is that a word?) I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've headed into the local hardware store with a problem only to have them tell me that what I want to do can't be done. Yet, with a little thought and a lot of wandering, I can usually find some part to work for what I want to do. Sure the part is meant for something else entirely, but it's that Suthun thinking that takes over in times like these.

This is the true Suthun Inventor at work. Taking some common problem and fixing it with uncommon thought. If only the guys at the hardware store were more 'suthun' like me. I'd like to be considered. One day. Soon. Maybe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spring Forward, Fall South

This is Hume-Fogg High School. It's located right in downtown Nashville just a block or two from my office. Every year when the new school year starts, I am reminded that, as a kid back in Colorado, school started on September 3 every year and not too long after Daylight Savings time would end. Now school starts sometime in the beginning of August and Daylight Savings time runs to sometime in November. Makes me wonder why do it at all. As a kid, I always equated the start of FALL with school. The days became a bit cooler and by October we had falling leaves and even snow (it was Colorado after all.)

Here in Nashville, fall is a mere 2 weeks long. It's never the same time, but I can plan on those two weeks of easy weather, cool breezes and turning off the AC to get the windows open. After those two weeks, we have rain, rain and - you guessed it, more rain. Though many would deny it, the South has a fifth season, which falls sometime around the end of summer and the beginning of winter (along with that 2 week fall period.) It's called Hurricane Season.

Tropical Depressions start mixing it up out in the Caribbean (Why do they call them Depressions? Are they sad about the weather, too?) and before long they start marching in toward the coast of Florida. Usually, (USUALLY) they break up before they get too far inland, so we here in Tennessee only see a couple solid weeks of heavy rain followed by light rain, followed by drizzle and...lather, rinse, repeat.

Rain in Tennessee means humidity regardless of the season. Humidity that can be 80% or more at 7 in the morning. Makes you feel like you just stepped out of a shower. Oh and Rain? Means that while my 'Bubba' in Colorado is putting away his lawn mower for the winter, I'm still worrying about getting one good dry day to mow just one more time (or maybe two or three) before the cold weather really sets in. You don't want the snow (yes, Nashville gets snow but we'll get to that later this winter) piled up on extra long grass, that's just not kosher. So, if the weather won't let you, you may have to get out in that drizzle and get the grass mowed at least one last time.

Nothing says "Where is that dang foole* from?" than mowing the yard in the rain. I've done it and it's probably why none of my neighbors really consider me one of the 'good ol' boys'.

* I use the extra 'e' on Foole to draw emphasis to the fact that only a true Foole such as myself would mow his lawn in the rain. At least it's not an electric mower.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Travelin' in Style

When you drive through most cities, you see neighborhoods which have a certain homogeneous quality. Each home bears a passing resemblance to its neighbor. In older parts of the South, homes have a uniqueness which belies this homogeneous nature. Homes in the South (especially the OLDER homes) are by far and away, some of the most unique in the country. Big sprawling plantation style estates dotted with Spanish moss and weeping willows, wrap around porches and huge rooms with those high ceilings all point to both elegance and function.

Which brings me to the picture above. This reminds me of something I'd see parked in a Walmart parking lot off I-40 with a passel of kids harassing mom and dad as they try to get enough Moon Pies and RC cola stocked for the winter. Dad has spent an inordinate amount of time getting the house ready for the winter by nailin' up just enough scrap plywood to hold the insulation in place. (Insulation: wadded up plastic bags from Walmart...I'm just guessing...) The rest of the vehicle seems like it's in good shape (meaning nonrusty, no visible bondo and no more plywood) which makes a fella wonder at just what happened to the entire side of that thing.

What really makes me wonder at the innovation and yes, uniqueness of this vehicle is the windows covered with what looks like plastic wrap. Yeah, that'll keep the cold winters out.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Notice My Protective Shield?

This is one of those pictures which sort of makes you look twice. At first glance it appears that our intrepid traveler has been working on a new passive protection device for motorcyclists. On SECOND glance you can see that this good ol' boy has decided not to wait for Bubba with his pick em up truck to take his grill somewhere. I'm saying GRILL, but I don't' mean his sparkly teeth (that's for them strange El Ay types) and it's not the front of his 57 Dodge. It's a piece of equipment for barbecuing. You can see that the rider's 'face shield' is actually where the propane tank would sit and...well, the rest is sort of self explanatory - other than where he might carry the spatula...

I love the south, and I love my friends. I think, however, I might have waited for Bubba and his pick em up truck.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Downtown Saturday Night

A week or so ago, we happened to head into downtown Nashville for a night on the town. Not something we do a lot for two reasons. 1) it's a bit of a drive and 2) the drunks. For the most part, I don't mind the drive. I ride this very same distance every day to work so it's not really that much of a big deal. The people who feel it necessary to partake of too much* liquor and then drive cause me too many waking nightmares to count, so its best to just keep away from these jerks.

So, anyway, we head into Downtown and discover a whole new realm of idiocy. Now I can go ahead and call this idiocy because I'm sure this happens in every city in our country and then even in such far flung places outside our borders. What idiocy? Parking rates. When did they get so freaking high? We pulled into one and were told the rate was $15. Did you get that? They were charging more than most nightclubs charged for admittance and the parking space didn't even have live music!

Let me add to this idiocy. I went in search of a cheaper spot, found a place with a sign which stated "$5 Parking" but when I went to get out of the car, some guy in an official looking shirt held out his hand and said "fipteen dollah." I pointed out the sign and he repeated "fipteen dollah." Not one to argue, I went in search of another parking place.  I should also point out that I am not against anyone with an accent, but I feel you should be a little more versed in the language than just 'fipteen dollah.'  

My real reason for writing all this down this week is what we found in downtown Nashville that you just cannot find anywhere else. Music. Oh sure you got your music in New Yawk, or El Ay, but nothing like Music City brings to the street. And right there is the true charm of our fair downtown. Along with the high number of clubs and bars with live music (I lost count at 30) the streets are peppered with musicians trying to find their voice, practicing their art, and hoping for a bit of cash.
Broadway near 3rd, Downtown Nashville
As you walk down the wide sidewalks, on one side you have the music from the bars, the open doors to which are as sandwiched so close together that they could nearly all be one place and on the other you have the street musicians. Guitar players abound, but there are also a high number of accordions, brass and even a few drummers. Add to this a mix the sounds of the traffic which includes horse drawn carriages and you have a concert you cannot find elsewhere, all within a 4 block radius. '

It's no wonder that the city closes 2nd avenue to traffic at 10 pm. The whole 2nd avenue venue right outside the Hard Rock Cafe and just a few doors down from the Wild Horse Saloon becomes one big party. You can find just about any music to your liking here just wander along and listen at the door or better yet, grab your partner and dance in the street.

Music city. Like none other and only found in the South...for fipteen dollah.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A vote for Basil is a Vote for...

The south has a long and storied history when it comes to politics. A lot of presidents have been from the south - I personally live within a mile and a half of Andrew Jackson's Hermitage Home - as well as state and local legends. But in recent years, it is not the good politicians which remain in memory, it is the more colorful and ok, let's say it - those who are less than stellar. Bill Clinton may have been president, but Monica Lewinsky will forever cement him in our collective conscience.

Tennessee is far from the bottom of the list when it comes to cementing a memory. A few years back some state senators were indicted in the now infamous 'Tennessee Waltz Sting". But let's talk really recent.
Meet Basil Early in the primary for Tennessee Governor, a local TV station gave each candidate two minutes to explain their platforms. This stocky former Recon Marine introduced himself by saying "I'm Basil, the Republican candidate for governor." I can't make stuff like this up!

Among's ideas were to force everyone to carry a gun, advocated the planting of grass on all vacant lots in the state to sell for gas and doing away with all traffic stops. Later, in his "official ad" where he wanted to "do my issues" he stated that he wanted to 'Make yous all more freer." Among those issues were, and I'm again not making this up: Move the capital of the state from Nashville to Chattanooga as a method of cleaning house, getting rid of "all the back room politic that ruined our politic program in Tennessee" and removing the gold fringe from all flags to "make the flag fly right."

I could go on stating other plans such as how he wanted to send anyone who LOOKED "Mexican" south of the border, but if they had a Green Card, they could be allowed to return. The vote was last week, and the fact of the matter is that he lost the primary. Yes, lost. Amazing isn't it? He even made it on two respectable (?) national news (?) shows, The Colbert Report and Jimmy Kimmel Live but he still didn't get enough votes to move on to the main campaign.

Sure, you live someplace like New York, or Chicago and have odd politics - even memorable politics, but without a Basil in your history, you just have no idea. Only the South can give you that!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Louisiana Turtle Burgers

Whenever there is nothing to watch on TV, we end up surfing over to the Food Network and watch a few shows there. I love unique cooking but I also really don't like watching some show tell me how to make a dish of food which you can only find in outer Mongolia. I like finding out new ways to cook the foods I already have handy.

Now, recently, I got this letter from my sister which included a recipe (with the accompanying photo above) for some Turtle Burgers. Louisiana Turtle Burgers (pronounced 'loo-zee-'ă -nuh.) In fact, the original title was "Coon Ass"* Turtle Burgers" but I cannot see a Cajun making a plain burger with only cheese and Hot Dogs. If anything, these were made by some Nawthunah and given the name in order to give the dish some sort of pedigree. A real Cajun Dish would have some cajun seasoning, at the very least. And let's face it, when have you EVER seen a Cajun dish with store bought hot dogs and NOT Cajun Sausage?

The last thing which causes me to question the Suthun origins of this dish are the instructions. It strangely states
Hand-made ground beef patties, topped with sharp cheddar cheese, wrapped in a bacon weave, then the next step, add hotdogs as the heads, legs with slits for toes and tail.

If you tried to stick those bits of hot dogs into the burgers AFTER they are formed, they will fall right off. (And no, look closely, there are no toothpicks, glue or other foreign matter holding those bits in place. The burned ends you see are the 'formed' feet and toes of the 'turtle.')

My Suthun neighbor, Bubba (aka Lord Of All Things Barbeque), saw this picture and made them up for a weekend get together. He said the best way to make sure 'them legs an' all' stay where they belong during cooking is to "Cut the hot dog in half, and lay all the pieces on top of a flat burger so that they have as much hot dog on the burger as sticking out. Add a ball of hamburger on top and press it down, thus holding the hot dogs in place as you form the 'turtle.' THEN add the cheese and bacon weave." (Bubba Knows Burgers..)

Lastly, the email recipe says to
  "Place on an oven rack, covered loosely with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. A little crispy, not too crunchy...just how a turtle should be, no?" (Gotta love that "Cajun speak" ending there.)

Bubba agreed with the cooking time, and stated that on a grill the legs, head and tail might burn up before the burger was done, so a little 'aluminium' (Bubba pronunciation guide: al-you-MIN-ee-um) foil wrapped around the head and legs might prevent this. Baking, however, seems to be the best idea.  (Like a broken clock, even Nawthunaz are right once in a while.) But the big mistake here is to put them right on an oven rack! Without something to catch the grease from the meats, your oven will be a mess. A broiling pan works best here which will allow the grease to fall away from your 'turtles' as they cook and not mess up your lovelyl appliance.

Neighbor Bubba also suggested a 'touch' of Cajun seasoning in the hamburger, or a bit of memphis barbeque sauce on the bun. Again, Bubba knows burgers.

If you are from some place NAWTH of the Mason-Dixon, you can eat them plain, but don't call them Cajun Turtle Burgers or Louisiana Turtle Burgers. Whatever you call them, if you make some, be sure to let me know how they turned out!


*Coonass, or Coon-ass, is used in reference to a person of Cajun ethnicity. Many consider it an epithet but others consider it a compliment or badge of honor. Not being cajun, I hesitate to use it, and therefore change the name of the burgers to CAJUN Turtle Burgers. It's what any good suthunah would do.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mud and the Suthunah

Last time we spoke, we discussed the enjoyment of water in the Suthuna'z life. We also discussed those things which go well with water sports such as scantily clad young women. There is another 'go-with' which must be discussed when we bring up the fascination, nay NEED for refreshing water and the resulting play of the Suthunaz life. Something which goes hand in hand with water, namely Mud.

Suthunaz love the mud. I'm pretty sure that the love of mud came from the amount of rain known to fall in most southern regions (though to be sure, Mud Games and Mud Events are found as far north as Oregon!) Mud has the same cooling effect as water, and when it dries gives you even better protection from the UV rays of the sun! Sort of like an SPF 1000 - but you have to make sure that the mud covers EVERYTHING - and I do mean everything. The sun does NOT care what it burns.

Mud events can be mere mud play, wrestling (both male AND female) and even football played in a mud field. There's racing of fossil fueled powered vehicles of every type from golf carts to monster trucks. In South Korea they have an annual Mud Festival (which just ended this last weekend). The Mud Festival was created when they found that mud events bring in more money than agriculture.

But, perhaps my favorite of the Mud Events (here in the South) is the Diving and Belly Flop competitions. Open to everyone and anyone, entry is limited to one's own daring and ability - daring and fearlessness are perhaps the key facets of the 'Mud Diver.' Here, form and style is less as important than shock and awe. Some guy with a set of 6 pack abs jumping off a platform and nailing a half gainer with a twist may get a handful of applause, but a group of folks standing in the forest watching some guy with a beer barrel stomach land face first in a pond of mud elicits screams, laughter and the ever present "Oh, that's gotta HURT!" More than just thunderous applause, the diver gets a beer!

People may wonder at the enjoyment of mud, and the games we play in the mud, but the Suthunah has the right idea. Enjoy life. Enjoy the earth. Drink Beer.

Geez, I love living in the south.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wanna Git Yer Picher Made?

Suthunaz love the water. They love boats, jet skis, and swimming. In the heat and humidity, having a local spot to cool off can raise the value of your home.

Here in Nashville, we have hundreds of acres of water in the form of not one but two reservoirs holding untold millions of gallons. Every Weekend in the hot summers you can find the reservoirs covered with all manner of boats, jet ski and other pleasure craft and you can find the man made beaches which line these reservoirs filled with all manner of scantily clad young ladies and their admirers. Like that picture above would seem to hold testament to. (I'm told that if you study the picture long enough, a man appears to the left....)

Seriously, let's take a look at this guy. I mean, at first glance, you wonder if he's homeless and maybe just wandered up into the shot as someone was taking a pic. He's not really dressed for a day at the beach...Ok, so fine, he's not wearing a shirt. Is that beach ready? And what is he carrying? It has the look of a garbage bag holding recently cleaned up road kill. About to grill lunch perhaps? Oh let's not go there.

But, if we study this pic, you can see that the girls may not have been the taker's original intent. The center of the shot is not the man nor the girls but someplace in between. It's kind of like someone was taking a picture of their grandpa and things sort of went awry. I can see it like this: "Hey, Grandpa*, before we tho' that possum on the coals, lemme get a picture!" Grandpa stops and holds a pose - Grandpa is no fool, he knows ol' bubba doesn't have a movin' picture camera, so he's not about to be gamboling about whilst the poor boy tries to focus - and across the camera's vision walk a couple of the local ...local... well for lack of a better phrase, we'll say 'Girls'. Bubba is taken by their suthun demeanor, their photogenic qualities - ok so he sees they got big hooters - and before he can snap the shot of grandpa, the camera tracks a bit to the direction of the ladies - seemingly all by itself. Click. Got it.

Grandpa will later say "Dang it, them girls nearly blocked the shot, Bubba!" and Bubba will smile and shake his head, "Yeah, Grandpa, I nearly missed the shot entirely."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
*In the South, one's grandfather is usually referred to by a nickname such as 'paw-paw' or maybe 'pa-paw' (with the short a as in 'pack') I use the generally accepted 'Grandpa' since that is what I called my grandfather and additionally, I refuse to let my grandkids call me anything which may sound like a poorly tuned motorboat. I prefer Grandpa, but will also answer to G-Pa, G-Man and "Thou Grandest of Exalted Elders" - though to be honest, I doubt I'll ever get any of them to use the latter.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Please Help - Don't Give.

I love this picture. This guy is at least honest. I took this picture myself right outside of downtown Nashville as I was headed home one day. You see Nashville has an inordinate amount of homeless. Which begs the obvious question: Why?

Suthunaz are generous people - to a fault. This in and of itself causes problems here in the south. First, you have the great weather. Ok, so it gets cold and it gets hot, but the mean temperature for Nashville is better on average than a lot of Mid South cities. Then, you get the fact that there is a high number of churches here. Many of the larger churches have 'giving' programs of their own. In fact, there are so many of them that a homeless person in Nashville can eat six - yes, that's right, SIX (6) times a day! That's over 50 group style meals in the Nashville area each and ever week. Not to mention a plethora of other state, city and private sector agencies who are more than happy to help.

The only problems come when some 'non-suthun' homeless get the idea that they can get even more from the locals. So we get a lot of "Hey, got a dollar?" (Why, yes, I do, because I have a JOB!) Ok, so I don't tend to get belligerent - usually - but it can be problematic especially when we're trying like heck to get tourists back after the flood. (You remember the flood, right? Was in all the papers...)

So, anyway, the downtown partnership of Nashville has come up with a nifty saying to keep the locals from feeding this indigenous group of homeless..."Please Help - Don't give!" Neat, huh? In order to help the situation, they are asking the locals not to give money to the homeless. They can get help in many agencies, so they really shouldn't need handouts.

I find it almost humorous that in order to help, my local suthunaz are being exhorted NOT to help. The south just gets more and more interesting.

Learn more by clicking the nifty sign below:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When the Spit hits the Fan.

I’m at a point where I truly believe that when you move to the south, something in the water or the food or perhaps even something in the very air we breathe causes the average male Suthunah to have more saliva than they need. Unfortunately, I am also under the belief that this excess saliva (aka ‘spit’) may be poisonous or at the very least detrimental to the well being of a good ol' boy and therefore cannot be swallowed. This , in turn, causes them to want to get rid of the excess saliva (et al) in a most disgusting public manner. This can be seen in the very fact that Suthun men constantly spit excess saliva onto the roadways, sidewalks and god knows what else on a daily basis along with tobacco juice, gum, and all manner of non edible items which they’ve carefully and completely chewed into a sopping mess.

The well documented Southern Moment includes not one but two instances of excess saliva (et al) being expectorated onto the roadways, albeit accompanied by a generous and somewhat disgusting gob of tobacco juice. I say it was tobacco juice, as I am not really sure. I only know it was nearly black, had the consistency of lumpy gravy and is still out there sitting in the middle of the road to this very day.

Let us refer to this as the Surplus Spit Syndrome (SSS) or when the expectoration includes unidentifiable matter, Expectorated Stuff Syndrome (ESS). I’ve found gobs of this ESS/SSS on the sidewalks in front of the symphony hall, government offices and entertainment complexes. There is no real pattern nor understanding to its occurrence. It is the fact that they feel somewhat justified in getting rid of this spit/junk/unidentifiable-gob whenever the feeling overtakes them that causes those of us with human sensibilities to become rather disgusted.

Dr. Bubba J. Johnson of the Fictitious Information Bureau (FIB) suggests that this can be likened to the animals in the wild who feel the need to ‘mark’ their territory. “The Southern man feels the need to somehow identify that he has been to a particular location.” Explains Dr. Johnson. “Unable to mark the spot in the way of his ancestors, he is forced to expectorate saliva, regardless of the matter contained in his mouth at the time. The more they do this, the more the body is compelled to create more [spit].”

So, ok, that makes more sense. Driven back to one’s ancestry, the wild animals, the southern man is only doing what comes naturally. This may also explain a lot of other behavior that the Southern Man does when NOT in public. But, for the moment, let’s leave that for another time. Now, if I can just get my spit to not dribble on my shirt dickey, I'll be doing a lot better.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ingenuity, thy name is Suthun...

This car is fun to look at for two reasons. First and foremost, it's located in a Walmart Parking lot. Walmart is the mecca of of the South, and usually populated by such a wide cross section of the populace that it may be worthy of study some day. There are websites dedicated to the sightings of strange creatures and stories of same all from your local Walmart (the World's largest Retailer.)

Second, the owner of this car has made some well thought out and administered modifications to his car. Take a close look. THat wood piece on the back, at first looks like your basic air foil, designed to keep the car from flying off into space (never mind that whole gravity thing).

Looking closer, you can see actual thought processes at work. 1) the Air Foil is placed against the back of the car and not on the trunk, allowing that the weight of said wood air foil would make opening the trunk more difficult than it already is. But more importantly, 2) the air foil is a DUAL ACTION Air Foil. It's low and flat and can therefore be used for TAILGATING at the local sports field! Now there is some great design work!

I love the south, don't you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

That's not Bait!

There is an old joke (and I'm an old jokester) which says that Sushi has existed in the South for a long long time. We just call it BAIT. (Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week...)

Sushi, if you are not in the know, is a Japanese dish described as cold cooked rice dressed with vinegar that is shaped into bite-sized pieces and topped with raw or cooked fish, or formed into a roll with fish, egg, or vegetables and wrapped in seaweed. Just sort of makes you want to sit right down and eat...and I'm sure it's that mention of 'raw fish' that does it. Right?

My late mother loved sushi. She visited Japan when I was a little tyke (I stayed home) and had a love of sushi ever since. She loved to tell me of a place she found in California on vacation where she could get 'all you can eat' sushi, and yes, she would eat all she could eat and then some.

So, to bring this back to the South, recently a new oriental restaurant opened in our fair city advertising Japanese and Oriental Cuisine. Amazingly, it is within walking distance of our house. (It's actually about a mile, but to me that's walking distance. To most, any more than a trip to the next door neighbor is a need for a fossil fueled conveyance but as usual, I digress...)

Every few months, I can talk my wife into lunch at some Oriental All-You-Can-Eat Buffet and to be sure, there are several in our area. So, amazingly enough we ended up at this new place. Also amazingly, I discover that they have one of the largest selections of sushi I have ever seen this side of a bass fishin' tournament. They had Boston rolls, Tuna rolls, veggie rolls, California rolls, sushi of every type and style.

Now comes the part where I nearly lost it. I am sitting at the table, eating my usual General Tso's Chicken. I've got a nice Spring Roll and some sort of seafood dish, and my wife sits down with a plate of Sushi. I couldn't believe my eyes. This lovely lady across from me is about to eat some raw fish. RAW. FISH.

Well, to make a long story short, I had to try it. If only to honor my mother who tried to get me to try it for so long. I got myself a plate of sushi, some Wassabi (Very little, that stuff is like Nuclear Horshradish and will eat a hole in your tongue!) and true to the memory of my sainted mother, I even had a second plate. This may keep me from becoming a true member of the Suthun Good Ol' Boys Club, but I have to say, I really enjoyed it.

The place has become a regular stop of ours, and every time, ever single time, I think of my mother and wonder how she'd find the quality.  Southern Sushi.  Who woulda thought?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Confederate Memorial Day

Last Monday we celebrated Memorial Day (US) where we remember those who have given their lives in honor of our country. On Tuesday, I was driving down the street near the Hermitage and saw the above banner. Now, I understand the idea of Memorial day, a day we remember those who have given their life in defence of that which we believe in. But what exactly this this? Good question!

Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Decoration Day (Tennessee) and Confederate Heroes Day (Texas), is an official holiday and/or observance day in parts of the U.S. South as a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

Now, to some it might seem like a rather incongruous thing to celebrate and at first, even I was a bit surprised at the idea.... In effect, honoring those who died defending values we now find reprehensible such as Slavery. But at the same time, these are our forefathers, our history, our family. (Not mine, I'm from Colorado...)

Additoinally, this happens in the same U.S. South which has problems displaying the "Southern Cross" (aka, the Confederate Battle Flag). Can the two exist simultaneously? The uninitiated might say No. You'd be wrong.

What must be understood here, is that the Confederate Memorial Day does not stand for the beliefs as does the flag (or it would seem), but rather, it is for the memory of those who fought to preserve a way of life. Regardless of how we now feel, one has to take that fervor, that willingness to die for what one believes in and honor those who did. And Honor we do...well, at least 7 Suthun States that do and I'm happy to be part of one that does.

Just one more reason to love the South.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day - a note of remembrance.

I did not vote for Obama. In fact, it may come as no surprise to anyone that I have not voted for the winning Presidential Candidate - ever. This may be one of those rants where you may want to just jump on over to ICanHasCheesburger and forget all this, but someone really must say something.

It's Memorial Day. A day in which we honor and remember those who have given us our freedoms, our way of life and our rich history. Throughout my life, I have spent part of this day watching our President place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Virginia. In so doing, a silent way of thanking all those who have given the greatest sacrifice by the one who has asked the most of them - our President, the leader of our nation, the one who takes us in and out of wars, taking the one day each year to say a prayer and thank those gone, yet not forgotten.

It's Memorial day. Where is Obama? Obama is not there. Biden is there. Obama is not. For the first time since it's inception, the Memorial Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery will not be attended by our Commander in Chief. Apparently it is more important on Memorial Day for Obama to be with family than to honor those who have given their lives at his command. Oh Obama attended some ceremony in Chicago, but it seems a hollow gesture to the nation, at least in my book.

It's not right.

I live in Tennessee, amid the rich history of the Tennessee Volunteers. So named because when the president called, volunteers came. Honored to fight for our nation, at the behest and command of our President, the commander in Chief of those armies. When Governor Brown asked for 2800 men to fight Santa Ana, more than 30,000 volunteered to fight. It is an honor to fight for this nation. At least to us.

For the first time, I am ashamed of our President. Did he not understand what the job entailed when he filled out the application? Does he not understand that Memorial day is not just Family and Bar-B-Que? The answer is yes, he does. Because even if he doesn't understand the job, the meanings and the history of Memorial Day, you can be sure that some informed staffer has told him. After all, he attended the ceremony in Chicago, as a sort of 'gee, I guess I should do something..' Obama then CHOSE not to be in Arlington. (Let's face it, it's not like he couldn't get a flight back to DC. Air Force One flies when HE wants and when he CHOOSES.)

I hope to return to my usual look at life in the south next week. Until then, please pray for the families of those soldiers who gave their all, and pray for President, that he may soon know the real reason of this day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Springtime in the South - No Such Thing.

Actually, that's a misnomer. The South DOES get a springtime, it's just that it only lasts a short time. I define spring to be that time when a light breeze is lifting the leaves in salutation, birds are singing, and you can stay out in the sun for more than an hour without turning into a puddle of hot chicken fat. Spring in the South lasts about 2 weeks, in a good year. Then, we are hit with the full force of the humidity and heat that only the South can offer. Yes, hot chicken fat time. I spend most of my time indoors, checking the air conditioning level to keep the humidity at bay.

This all comes about because I mowed my lawn yesterday. Yes, in the 88° degree heat, and about 150% humidity, I felt the call of the Lawn Ranger and saddled up the mower. As regular readers know, I have a nice rear-wheel Deere which saves a lot of wear and tear on yours truly. But the heat and humidity still is a killer.

I have a full outfit which I wear to mow the lawn. Along with the camouflage jeans, and white tee-shirt (advertising a proper Non Lite Southern Beverage) I wear a polyvinyl pith helmet. I am from Scottish heritage and have the kind of complexion where a large photo of a sunny day can give me a sunburn. The Pith Helmet does, in fact, do three things. 1) It keeps the sun off my face and neck. 2) it allows air flow over the top of my head, and apparently 3) gives my wife something to laugh at. Sometimes, when the heat gets the best of me I also carry a wet towel which I wrap around my neck. Yeah, I have a lot of trouble with the heat.

Oddly, none of my Suthun neighbors laugh at the outfit. They seem to know that the sun and heat must be kept at bay at all costs. Though none of them wear pith helmets they all have their own ways of keeping the heat off while the duties of the Lawn Ranger take precedence. I like to think that the pith helmet makes me some what special in their eyes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Things that Matter.

Not long ago I was at my Doctor's office (no, not for that) and among the many outdated magazines on his table in the waiting room was this magazine that is a testament to the South in the 21st century. (Heck, it even says so right there on the cover!)
Garden & Gun.  It seems like a joke doesn't it? The kind of thing you find on one of those photoshop contest sites a sort of mash up of House and Garden and Gun Enthusiast. Why not Duck Tape and Flowers? Why not Beer and Pretzels (Hey, that would be great if my doctor had beer and pretzels in the waiting room...)

As much as I am a devotee of all things suthun, I cannot seem to grasp what is so "suthun" about this magazine. Other than the obvious locales mentioned on the cover, it seems more like a copy of New Yorker. Well, ok, so the guns make an obvious difference. In New York, I imagine the average gun is chosen for it's ability to be hidden and accessible easily when a mugger appears, whereas in the South the average gun is chosen for it's ability to take down a deer or punch holes in highway signage.

And why GARDEN and Gun? In reality (rather than the fantasy world in which I spent so very much time) I suppose it is intended to appeal to a wider array of families and couples in the south. Gardens for the ladies and guns for the men. Or maybe it would be more PC if I put 'gardens for one and guns for the other.." I do this for my late father in law who loved to garden and collected guns as well as for Bev, a close friend who is a consummate hunter....uh..huntress. (Is that a word?)

So, I shall probably pick up a copy to find out how much more out of sync I am with the south and those who call themselves Suthunaz. Story of my life....

Monday, May 10, 2010

A New Suthun Tradition?

There is a new tradition sweeping our great nation, and it seems to have roots in the south. As I was standing in line waiting for my limousine, I got into a conversation with a lady about where her son asked to go for his 10th birthday. The answer elicited a few smiles, but when she said they TOOK him there, I nearly fell down. Where? HOOTERS.

Now, for those of you not in the know, or who live under a rock, Hooters is a restaurant chain born in Georgia, named after a slang term for a woman's breasts their OWL mascot, who's name is Dr. Hootie (owls 'hoot', hence the name.) That alone is not the questionable reference. The problem is that Hooters has these young nubile strippers waitresses who wear a uniform consisting of a pair of orange shorts and a rather tight fitting tee shirt (See reference shot above.) Since these young nubile strippers waitresses cannot help but show off their mammalian attributes (clever phrase, huh?) because of the aforementioned tight fitting tee shirt, one is immediately struck by the fact that the reference to HOOTERS may, in fact, refer to those same mammalian attributes. In addition, the restaurant is named Hooters, not Hooties or even more grammatically Hootie's. But that in itself is not the issue here. Not today anyway. (And just what is DR. Hootie a Doctor of, anyway? The quick guess is plastic surgery...but I I often do...)

It appears that a growing number of Suthunas are taking their pre-pubescent and teen aged males to this 'restaurant' for their celebrations and not just birthdays, either. New Drivers License? Head to Hooters! Little League Win? Take the Team to HOOTERS! First pair of Big boy Pants? Uh...Hooters?

Even this alone would seem only 'smirkable' by most standards, especially considering that Hooters does, in fact, make some good fare. (Hot Wings any one?) BUT it is the obligatory PHOTO OP with the well endowed stripper waitress(es) which gets me wondering "Exactly what are we teaching our kids today?' Now, we've probably all seen those pictures of the Frat Boy Wanna-Bees with the half empty mug of Non Light Beer standing next to the aforementioned strippers waitress, AND I'm sure that Bubba (No, Carl, not you) wants to have a photo with the tightly-tee-fitted strippers waitress, but why do we have to do that with little Timmy? I mean, let's take a look at the evidence, shall we?

This guy looks to me to be under driving age, and the kind of kid you see out mowing lawns. By the look on his face, he knows darned well why they named the place Hooters.

Yes, I had to edit the photo, due to the age of these kids as well as the incredibly large and inappropriate smiles on the faces of the kids at the right.

And it's obvious that this kid really doesn't care what the name of the place is. He's not trying to read the strippers waitress's name tag!

Now, these two appear to have SOME idea of what's going on, but seem incredibly uncomfortable in so doing.

I've saved this one for near the end. It appears as if the girl(?) on the left is patiently putting up with the photo op, and the guy on the right is all for it. BUT, let's add into that the celebration itself. They've been awarded something there...look close...YES, it's a bottle of Corona Extra - that's right, what looks to be a QUART BOTTLE of Imported Beer! Just what two little tykes need - and the obligatory photo op with a couple of young nubile< strippers waitresses...

I'll leave you with one last photo, the one that really makes you wonder why there is no licensing procedure for Parenthood...

Heck, even the kid seemssurprised at the turn of events.

I also want to point out what I had to endure to find all these photos. You cannot imagine the kinds of photos that pop up when you type the word "Hooters" into a search engine. (I should have expected it, I suppose...) I slogged through them all, for you, my fans....It was hard work, but someone had to do it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

There was Historic Flooding in Nashville

Yes, it sounds like it could be a country song, but thanks to 130 year record-breaking rains (more than 15" in 48 hours) the rivers (yes, plural) are rising even as the sun finally breaks through.

Take a moment from your blog reading day and say a prayer or send out good thoughts to those who have lost so much.

Being in the center of it all has been an incredible experience. You all know what it's like to watch the rescue efforts over the TV, but to go out and find your regular stores, places you frequent, even the streets you use regularly closed and under water is a very humbling experience.

We were very lucky. Our house sits on a rise and other than a bit of extra water under the house, we got off unscathed. The flooding in our area (east of town) is limited to those areas around the creeks and rivers. One river runs right from the dam into the area and ended up flooding two shopping centers we frequent on a regular basis.

I cannot imagine the amount of loss in personal effects, houses, and even cars (not to mention the known 12 deaths from the flooding) and then add to that the loss in tourism dollars, wages and lost items in the stores flooded. Editorials on this have been written by others, and I will only suggest you take a moment and donate a few bucks to some charity ( Yet, even with all this loss, the Suthunaz have come out in full force to help their neighbors. Earlier today the mayor announced that the shelters were innundated with donations and volunteers. Hey, this is the volunteer state, remember? There were not calls to action, no pleas for help. When the tragedy struck, people helped. No one asked, it just happened. Boats came out to ferry people to safety. People opened their homes, their wallets and their hearts.

Again, it's just one of the things I love about living in the south. Want to help?
Make a donation to a charity, visit (hands on nashville).

Thanks for reading, back to the usual stuff next post.